After doing away with his first wife and his own mother, Nero tried killing his second wife, Poppaea, with a mixture of wine, dog urine, mustard and nutmeg, which was considered a lethal spice by the Romans. Vile as the mixture was, Poppaea merely became more disagreeable but did not pass away.
Undaunted, Nero made at least one other attempt on her life, which was successful. Then, as a symbolic gesture of his overwhelming grief, he burned Rome's entire supply of cinnamon bark, a rare and valuable commodity. The spectacular pyre burned aromatically for three days and is said to have inspired Nero to outdo even himself with the ultimate burning of the entire city.
This page first published in 1998.
Copyright © 1998, 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007
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